The Meek Shall Inherit
Bryn McLarey, Sheffield
I remember back in school, the stupid verbal habits began. They were there tu ease the boredom and the deid silence that lies between each individual. These confused minds who don’t know who they are yet, or who they can be. A body of in-jokes built up, some picked off telly or film, some just materialising from locality. Glaswegians have nothing if not a strong sense of identity…
But we had enough of these wee in-jokes sae that any time we didnae know how tu express sumthin seriously, or retort with sufficient wit, we just plucked up a catchphrase, and everyone fell about laughing because they felt they were part of sumthin.
These verbal habits never properly escaped me. They fill mae memory space where I ought tu remember the nuances of eastern European politics, or the speed light travels. Wolfgang has worsened these verbal habits as his entire personality sumtime fell victim to his quirks. Probably due tu some trauma more major than being picked on by year elevens.
And sae it became that any time someone said sumthin weird, or acted strangely, or spoke an opinion so ridiculous they ought tu be shot in the leg at close range. The words uttered, generally with humour and always preceded with a long pause of disbelief, were – “Are you on smack?!”
And sae it happened that I wus sat in Dulos one Sunday night. This being one of those haunts every city should know – where a lurid combination of artists, pill heads and tramps hung out, listening tu loud dub step on shitty speakers, and talking excessively tu people they didnae ken about issues. I remembered the evening clearly, due tu the presence of a charismatic, three-legged mongrel, (with its own dreadlocks no less) intent on creating an endless game of fetch inside the pub. And willing tu befriend every punter in the place, in order tu achieve it.
His owner wus a spaced out busker with a strange meekness (that made me want tu shake him and scream have some backbone for fooks sake). He became entangled in a one-sided argument (he just stood there looking meek) on telling some fuckwit that the dog wus called Ziggy. To which the fuckwit began a rant about how Bowie had signed tu Sony and therefore may as well be shagging Dick Cheney up the ass, for all the lack of morality that demonstrated.
I cannae pretend I didnae want tu join the argument. But Jenny, the girl I wus with at the time had me firmly under the tom thumb, and seemed tu dislike the way I joined in arguments with strangers and then nutted them when they disagreed with me.
The hours crawled by anyway. The pub apparently closed but remained half full of vague acquaintances of the manager, who sat around supping beer and talking long intu the night. There wus a fellow sat next tu me with a weathered face and eyes sae hallowed I could see the black part of his brain. He’d said some pretty sardonic rubbish throughout the evening, but I escaped gripe with him until he said he thought immigrants ought tu be the ones tu work in coal mines (and other risky occupations), instead of worthy ‘British’ folk. As they didnae matter as much, and were obviously willing tu take the risks, in order to live in such a fine country. I let mae temper settle for a few moments, and instead of grabbing him by the nostrils and throwing him across the room, I let a long pause of disbelief settle, before exclaiming with a fiery undertone.
“Are you on smack?!”
A deadly silence filled the room until the walls bled and every face looked expectant. I looked intu the man’s eyes and it wus like looking into hell itself, and there wus a sad flicker of half-shamed affirmation. All of a sudden I wasn’t in a darkened bar anymore. I wus sat on the patio of some gorgeous Mediterranean café, in the summer sun, with a sweet breeze crawling over mae body. And the saime man sat right there next to me, and I’d asked the saime question of him, and his eyes looked still the saime.
Yes, the eyes said, I am on smack.
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